All state institutions are responsible for addressing past human rights violations in the absence of an official rights tribunal, a leading advocate said on Monday.
Ifdhal Kasim, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), blamed the lack of progress in dealing with past violations on the fact that an ad hoc human rights court had never been established in the country.
In the absence of such a tribunal, he said, the best solution was for all government institutions to work together and address unresolved cases. “The ability to resolve these cases of past rights violations will be a measure of how civilized we are as a society,” he said.
He said the Attorney General’s Office was not the only responsible party. “The AGO, the House of Representatives, the government, Komnas HAM — everyone has a responsibility in this matter,” he said.
Ifdhal was responding to an order by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week for the AGO to study a recent four-year study by Komnas HAM that found evidence of serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the anti-communist purge of 1965-66.
“What Komnas HAM has reported will be studied by the attorney general, who is expected to report to me and other relevant parties,” Yudhoyono said on Wednesday. “We want a good, just, factual, smart and constructive settlement.”
Up to half a million people are thought to have died in the purge, which targeted suspected members and sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and was sparked by an attempt to overthrow the country’s founding president, Sukarno.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt, Maj. Gen. Suharto mobilized his forces and effectively took control of the country. He eventually became president and served for more than 30 years.
Following the release of the findings, Attorney General Basrief Arief said he welcomed the investigation led by Komnas HAM, but warned that resurrecting a case from nearly 50 years ago was no simple matter.
“A [case] that happened before the year 2000 requires [an ad hoc rights tribunal], as stipulated by the law,” the attorney general said last Tuesday.
Such a tribunal would be required to be formed based on a recommendation from the House and endorsed by a presidential decree.